There are Sirens in My Head.
Do you hear them too?
Even before Donald Trump jumped into the Presidential race I was under great pressure from this crazy assignment. From the very beginning I knew I did not have the needed skills. And Shih Tzu knew it too.
Still, we could never have come this far without Paula playing such an amazing role in connecting the dots.
But even that was enabled by the stream of epiphanies which shaped our way of seeing.
And in all this, as my love for Paula grew and my conflict with Shih Tzu intensified, I have had the startling experience of seeing the unfolding drama in your country in a new way, a way that felt like a six alarm fire—sirens wailing in my brain as we considered what may be unfolding in your country and what it may mean for the whole world.
And, similar to the situation in your country, the biggest concerns of all for me personally weren’t my external pressures of the assignment and Shih Tzu, but the internal ones, as I battled with the most intense binary core values of all—life/death…which served up how my own story may turn out (if it’s the Christian story we are in) with the worst negation of the negation of all…for staring me in my face is a real possibility—damnation.
But, while I gladly share so candidly my personal struggles and will expound on them more fully, I must take you back to the startling situation in your country.
We showed you that the greatest threat to your country is not external threats, but internal. And if you’re concerned with the survival of your country, this should be of utmost concern for you Christians. For, if you love your country and your God, we came to discover that you are the key to bringing a change to your precarious situation.
Paula and I were still in China when Donald Trump entered the world’s stage to run for President. In the months before he entered your Republican presidential primary, when our heads were still spinning with this crazy assignment we got from my Uncle, and we were trying to find forward, Paula helped me begin to focus in the right direction via Robert McKee. That’s when we began to do well, making great progress.
So, we were going along, me with my epiphanies, Paula with her dot connecting, and the rest of our team along for the ride, when my enemy Shih Tzu, through my own stupid mistake, was assigned to our team.
It was a massive headache, a time full of insomnia and argument and division within our team. He even created a confusing ‘team within a team’, carrying away some of our best researchers.
But, in fits and starts (thanks to Shih Tzu’s combative style), we developed the material you’re seeing on this website. Still, we had many miles to go, wanting to complete our research on the question of America’s suicide, which was the source of my conflict with Shih Tzu, and also happened to be what the Central Committee wanted most to know and understand…will you die on your own? Or, were we needing to force you off the world’s center stage?
Then, believe it or not, it got even crazier, thanks to Donald Trump going and deciding to run for the highest office in your land. The moment Trump declared his candidacy, Shih Tzu saw an opportunity to disrupt my life even more. He was allowed by his own Uncle, who is also a player on the Central Military Commission, to dump on our team another assignment.
The Donald Trump Assignment
After the villain in my story, Shih Tzu, dumped Donald Trump into our original assignment, we initially thought Donald Trump did not have all that much to do with your unfolding drama in America.
Or, ours in China.
But soon our whole team was dancing to Trump’s obsessive tune…
But before you join us on the dance floor, jiving to that catchy beat, we need to turn your attention to another one of my epiphanies.
You see, we discovered many Christians claim Donald Trump is a Chosen One…
Yet none of this was as surprising as the support from religious Americans that Donald Trump commanded. At his side stood some of the most visible faith leaders in the nation. Famous preachers declared him God’s man. Eminent theologians said he was chosen.Stephen Mansfield, Choosing Donald Trump
And it’s clear the Donald thinks about himself this way…
So that just happened.
Yes, President Trump, when asked about his ongoing trade war with China, deemed himself “the chosen one” when talking with reporters outside the White House on Wednesday. As Trump put it, when it comes to dealing with China’s trade practices, “somebody had to do it.” He then added “I am the chosen one” as he looked up to the sky.
The odd comment comes just after Trump compared himself to some kind of deity in a Wednesday morning tweet. He seemed to be watching Wayne Allyn Root’s show on the conservative network Newsmax, and tweeted a quote from Root saying that “the Jewish people in Israel love [Trump] like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”Trump: ‘I am the chosen one’, By Kathryn Krawczyk, The Week, August 21, 2019
So, now our team is exploring the possibility that Donald Trump is a Chosen One.
We know, of course, that not all of America’s Christians have believed that Donald Trump is a Chosen One…
I have thought of Donald Trump as many things as I’ve watched him cruelly excoriate those who dare to criticize or not endorse him, lambast his vast assortment of “liars,” “losers,” “idiots,” “morons,” “chokers,” “bimbos,” and “ugly” women, and encourag his disciples to “knock the hell” and “knock the crap out” of dissenters at his rallies. I do not think of 1 Corinthians. Least of all, I never thought of him as a pro-life crusader, let alone as “God’s man,” the revealed and anointed one, the deliverer “appointed… in Jesus’ name.”
Alas, where to go with this? What can I say? Really, little needs to be said. But I’ll conclude with this.
Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Christians, this is insanity — misguided sentimentality at best, hysterical blasphemy at worst. Okay, I realize that some of you like Donald Trump. I can’t comprehend it, but I see it. Got it. But please, I beg you, literally in the name of God, please stop comparing your Donald to Jesus Christ or invoking him as some sort of political Messiah or some form of God’s chosen one.
We didn’t like it when secular liberals were engaging in their Obama worship. This is just as bad. I thought people on our side were smarter than this, and certainly more grounded in their faith. Enough is enough.Donald ‘Jesus’ Trump, By Paul Kengor, American Thinker, April 8, 2016
MARIA CARDONA, CNN: Wow, right? God? This is what God wanted.
Well if he did, it is because he wanted to punish us for taking our democracy for granted, and for not ensuring that every person got out there to vote, and this is what we got.
Look, I listened to the whole excerpt of the interview, in terms of what is available, and one huge word jumped out at me: hypocrisy.
There was so much hypocrisy in what Sarah Sanders talked about.
The bottom line is that I can’t imagine that God would put or would want somebody to be the commander in chief, the leader of the free world, somebody who doesn’t understand the words truth, honesty, integrity, honor, forgiveness. I could go on and on about how this president is actually the antithesis of Jesus Christ’s teachings and anything that real Christians would put on the table as something and someone that they would believe in.CNN’s Maria Cardona: Donald Trump Is The “Antithesis” Of The Teachings Of Jesus Christ, Posted By Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics, January 31, 2019
But, we also know that so many of Donald’s Christian supporters believe he was chosen to help save America…
“Millions of Americans,” declared Jeffress at a July 2017 event his First Baptist Church of Dallas sponsored in Washington, D.C., “believe the election of President Trump represented God giving us another chance—perhaps our last chance to truly make America great again.”Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President, By AMY SULLIVAN, Politico, January 27, 2018
And we understand it can be framed in an either/or way like this…
At a certain point in “God and Donald Trump,” the recent theological gymnastics on display from Tony Perkins and Jerry Falwell, Jr., among others, to explain ongoing conservative Christian support for a president who (allegedly) paid off a porn star weeks before Election Day so she would keep quiet about their (alleged) affair become clear. There will be no point at which Trump’s most loyal evangelical and charismatic supporters declare they have had enough. Because to do so would be to admit that they were wrong, that God wasn’t behind Trump’s election, and that their Holy Spirit radar might be on the fritz. That it was, after all, about something as temporal and banal as hating his Democratic rival.Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President, By AMY SULLIVAN, Politico, January 27, 2018
But, we are wondering if it is possible God the Great Storyteller has chosen Donald Trump as a mysterious character in America’s story for a very different purpose.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she believes God wanted President Donald Trump to win the 2016 election, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported on Wednesday.
“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there,” Sanders told CBN’s David Brody and Jennifer Wishon, according to a transcript of the interview provided by CBN.Sarah Sanders: God ‘wanted Donald Trump to become president’, By Kate Sullivan, CNN, January 31, 2019
So, what if you need to think more broadly about the role for which the Donald was chosen?
Presidential advisor Dr. Robert Jeffress remembers addressing the issue of God’s hand in elections with then-presidential candidate Trump.
“I remember saying to him, ‘Mr. Trump, I believe you’re going to be the next president of the United States, and if that happens it will be because God has a great purpose for you,” Jeffress recalls.
The Southern Baptist pastor also acknowledges that just because God places kings and rulers over countries doesn’t mean it’s always a good thing. Sometimes, he says, God does it as punishment as well.
“Not everything that happens within the sovereign will of God is good in and of itself – there’s some horrible things that happen,” Jeffress tells OneNewsNow. “But God still has a secret plan for which he is working all things out for his eternal plan.”CNN contributor: Trump must be God’s punishment on America, By Steve Jordahl, OneNewsNow, February 1, 2019
More importantly, regardless of the way leaders are chosen, Christians believe that the hidden hand of God is operative behind each transition in leadership (1 Sam. 2:6–8; Ezek. 17:24; Dan. 2:21, 4:17; John 19:11; Rom. 13:1–7). However, the purpose behind the divine operation is often unknown until long after the event. The Hebrew Scriptures recognize the unique role of Cyrus in the preservation of God’s people and ultimately his place in the divine plan of redemption (Ezra 1:1–11.) But we have no contemporary prophets like Isaiah (cf. Isa. 41:2–4, 44:24–45:7) or historians like the author of Ezra 1:1–4, who could have, under divine inspiration, predicted the emergence of President Trump as the key agent in the divine plan or, after his emergence, declared with prophetic certainty that he was God’s man for the hour. Nevertheless, within weeks of the presidential election, some American pastors were using biblical texts about Cyrus to declare confidently that President Trump’s election was God’s answer for a nation off course. (What’s more: Such pontifications are easier when “our” candidate wins, but one wonders what such leaders might have said had Hillary Clinton won.)Is Trump Our Cyrus? The Old Testament Case for Yes and No, By DANIEL BLOCK, Christianity Today, OCTOBER 29, 2018
So, now we wonder — if Christianity is the story we are in, and your God is the Great Storyteller – is it possible he has chosen Donald Trump as a unique character to play a mysterious role in the unfolding drama of America – and the world?
now we’d like to show you a memo Paula Wong wrote about this crazy possibility
that Donald is a Chosen One…
Mao Tse Tongue!
To: Chow Non Phat
Deputy Assistant Minister for Diet Control
From: Paula Wong
Re: Is Donald Trump a Chosen One?
Dear Comrade Chow,
If Christianity is the story we are in, it is possible their God chose Donald Trump to come flying into their unfolding drama as a Black Swan.
Even before he was elected, Donald Trump caught people’s attention as a Black Swan possibility.
Because when Donald Trump began his presidential run, very few people in American politics thought it was possible for him to achieve the Republican nomination…
Today—before a single vote has been cast—the least promising presidential candidate in more than a century is the presumptive nominee of his party.
How the hell did that happen? What are we really looking at? The best way to understand it is to realize that the Trump phenomenon is a Black Swan moment in electoral politics.
The Trump candidacy satisfies all three of Taleb’s criteria: His success was not expected, it is having a huge impact on politics, and it is being subjected to massive post-hoc rationalizations that really don’t explain anything.Trump: The Black Swan Candidate, By Jack Shafer, Politico, January 28, 2016
If the last two elections were a renaissance for data-driven journalism, turning statistician Nate Silver into a household name, the current presidential cycle seems like a return to the Dark Ages. After years in which we grew accustomed to thinking of polling as more science than art, Donald Trump’s spectacular rise to the top of the G.O.P. field turned the entire world of political punditry on its head. How did everyone, Silver included, fail to predict the possibility that a candidate initially written off as a joke (and a racist, to boot) might find himself a stone’s throw away from either triggering a historic contested convention or winning the Republican nomination outright?
One reason, Silver suggests, is that Trump represents a “black swan”—a concept developed by risk analyst Nassim Taleb to describe incredibly rare, hard-to-predict events, like the 9/11 attacks, that have an outsize impact.NATE SILVER EXPLAINS HOW EVERYONE GOT TRUMP WRONG, BY TINA NGUYEN, Vanity Fair, MARCH 24, 2016
Based on everything I knew about politics to that point, I was CERTAIN that I was right about Trump. I had never, ever seen a candidate with numbers like Trump’s do anything but flame out. And, per the NBC-WSJ poll, it wasn’t as though Trump was starting at any sort of high elevation. He was barely beating an asterisk in most national polling at the time.
Then everything changed. Fast.
The turnaround in his poll numbers between mid-June and early August was — and is– breathtaking.
Why did I miss Trump’s appeal so badly? Simply put: I had NEVER EVER seen a reversal in how people perceive a candidate who is as well known as Trump —much less a reversal in such a short period of time.
Trump starts as an underdog in the race against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. But, anyone who has borne witness to the last 323 days in politics — and I am one — can’t simply write off his chances just yet. This is someone who has already performed the politically impossible once. Who’s to say he can’t do it again?Donald Trump’s absolutely remarkable 323-day odyssey to the Republican presidential nomination, By Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, May 4, 2016
There are five people who’ve gone deeper on The Donald than anyone else alive. We brought them together for the definitive conversation about who he really is.
Glasser: One last thing I’ve got to know from everybody. Is Donald Trump going to be the president?
Blair: I hope not.
D’Antonio: I believe in America.
Barrett: I don’t think the same nation that elected Barack Obama twice could possibly elect Trump.Trumpology: A Master Class, By Susan B. Glasser and Michael Kruse, Politico, May/June 2016
I’ve been returning to the question of what lessons Republicans will learn from 2016. One of the frustrating aspects of the post-2016 analysis is that the likely Trump nomination had no single cause. There was a cascade effect of one unexpected turn of events after another.
How likely was it that John Kasich would continue, finishing in the low single digits in state after state, splitting the anti-Trump vote?
How likely was it that the 16 million Republicans who wanted someone besides Donald Trump could not unify behind an alternative, ensuring the 10 million Trump-supporting Republicans would get their way?
How likely was it that the last indisputable conservative standing, Ted Cruz, had so thoroughly alienated his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill that they were willing to roll the dice on Trump than go with Cruz, even though they seemingly agreed with Cruz on the issues more?Donald Trump, the Black Swan, by Jim Geraghty, National Review, May 3, 2016
And the odds were certainly against Donald because of his character…
The problem with Trump (or any other person in high office) is that it is hard to say what his character is, or where his unusual style ends and his character begins, or whether or not the various things he does actually reveal his character. If Trump’s character is his destiny, then it is hard to understand how he managed to come as far as he has through the ups and downs of a business career and now election to the highest office in the land. If we take his critics at their word, then Trump’s bad character should have taken him out of the business world and certainly out of the presidential race a long time ago. Bad character leads to a bad ending. His success up until now, far surpassing the achievements of most mortals, contradicts the proposition that “character is destiny,” unless one is prepared to say that there are important aspects of Trump’s character that produced to his success—a proposition that is worth pondering.A note on character in politics, by James Piereson, The New Criterion, January 4, 2019
So, if Christianity is the story we are in, should the Black Swan nature of Donald Trump’s rise catch our attention as we consider the possibility that the United States may not make it?
Maybe so. Consider this…
For those interested in what humans know and how they know what they know, the Trump ascendency specifically, and Black Swans in general, are fascinating. Black swans show that what we don’t know is more important than what we do (Taleb makes this point).Donald Trump Is a Black Swan, by Eric Dietrich Ph.D., Psychology Today, March 25, 2016
So, Comrade Chow, remember this quote from the Christian philosopher Paul Moser?
According to Paul, God subjects the creation to futility in the hope of setting people free from their bondage in corruption and thereby enabling them to enter freely into the glory of being the genuine children of God. To that hoped-for redemptive end, God shakes up, challenges, and undermines, even severely, the security pursued by humans in various sectors of creation, including in their presumed self-sufficiency apart from God. Paul finds old-fashioned idolatry at work in that human quest.
God seeks to expose the ultimate futility of human reliance on things other than God for life’s true security and flourishing, such things as wealth, health, education, fame, selfish ambition, self-serving religion, exclusive family relations, earthly longevity, and worldly power. God offers the instability of life’s flux, then, as a means of preventing us from latching on to securities inadequate to sustain a flourishing life that lasts. Our presumed moral self-sufficiency, for instance, needs to give way to the realization that we belong to someone else, namely God, who alone can empower genuine agape and lasting flourishing in us and among us.Paul Moser, The Severity of God
So, if Christianity is the story we are in, what if their God is putting something in play to reveal something about America’s Christians themselves?
Look at this…
“One thing I know for sure is that in the race of primaries, we had a lot really good God guys in there,” Barton said. “And we had a huge turnout of professing Christians and evangelicals and others, so there is nothing to complain about that we didn’t get a voice, we didn’t get a candidate. We had great candidates to choose from and this is who the people chose, and this is who the people chose with a really high turnout of evangelicals. So I kind of look back and say, ‘Hmmm, I wonder where God’s fingerprint is in this?’ because this is not necessarily a failure of the church.”
“This may not be our preferred candidate, but that doesn’t mean it may not be God’s candidate to do something that we don’t see,” he said. “We may look back in a few years and say, ‘Wow, he really did some things that none of us expected.’ So I am fully open to the possibility that because we did everything as Christians that we could, we can’t complain about our turnout, we can’t complain about our quality of candidates, and this is what the people chose; I’m a whole lot more open to the fact that God may have something going here that is much bigger than what we think or see.”David Barton: Christians Must Accept That Trump Is ‘God’s Guy’ In This Election, By Kyle Mantyla, Right Wing Watch, June 30, 2016
Even Franklin Graham, son of the famous Rev. Billy Graham, believes that God intervened to put Trump into the White House.
“I believe that he’s the president of this nation because God allowed it, and I think on election night, God intervened. He wasn’t supposed to win – he was supposed to lose, and I think it was God who worked in a mysterious way on election night to turn the tables.”Franklin Graham: Beware of coup against Trump, By Michael F. Haverluck, OneNewsNow.com, January 26, 2018
“I think somehow God put him in this position. Because he’s not a politician, he seemed to do everything wrong as a politician: he offended many people, did the wrong things – but somehow he became president. And I just have to think that God, in some reason, put him there for a purpose. I don’t know what that is, but we need to get behind him and support him.”Billy Graham’s Son: God Put Trump in Office, Associated Press, May 3, 2018
Graham takes comfort in Trump’s election. “He did everything wrong, politically,” Graham told me. “He offended gays. He offended women. He offended the military. He offended black people. He offended the Hispanic people. He offended everybody! And he became president of the United States. Only God could do that.” Now, there’s “no question” that God is supporting Trump, Graham said. “No president in my lifetime—I’m 64 years old—can I remember … speaking about God as much as Donald Trump does.”
“I believe Donald Trump’s there because God put him there.”Franklin Graham Is the Evangelical Id, By EMMA GREEN, The Atlantic, MAY 21, 2017
And there certainly were people in America who believed before the election that Donald Trump was a Chosen One.
They believed he had been chosen by God to play an important role in America’s unfolding drama.
For instance, look at this video clip of an American conservative pundit named Ann Coulter, as she introduces Donald Trump:
“Now I think it’s like Joseph in the Bible. He had to be sold into slavery, imprisoned, betrayed so that eventually he could save the Jews. Maybe Mitt Romney had to lose and maybe we had to give Republicans one more chance in 2014 and maybe Mitch McConnell and John Boehner had to betray us once again to pave the way for President Donald Trump. God hasn’t given up on America yet.”RWW News: Coulter: ‘President Trump’ Proof ‘God Hasn’t Given Up On America Yet’
No wonder she wrote a book titled In Trump We Trust.
But is she aware of these passages I found in their book of Psalms?
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
And Comrade Chow, her declaration of Trump’s chosen status reminded me of when the American film maker Spike Lee said Obama was “pre-deortained” to become president:
And I also came across a rather interesting book about Obama which was published in 2012 and titled The Gospel According to Apostle Barack: In Search of a More Perfect Political Union as Heaven Here on Earth.
The book was written by a university professor in America named Barbara Thompson. Here is her description of the book, taken from Amazon.com:
Then, as I began to contemplate ways to assist Barack in his 2012 re-election bid something miraculous happened. I felt God’s (His) Spirit beckoning me in my dreams at night. Listening, cautiously, I learned that Jesus walked the earth to create a more civilized society, Martin (Luther King) walked the earth to create a more justified society, but, Apostle Barack, the name he was called in my dreams, would walk the earth to create a more equalized society, for the middle class and working poor. Apostle Barack, the next young leader with a new cause, had been taken to the mountaintop and allowed to see over the other side. He had the answers to unlock the kingdom of “heaven here on earth” for his followers.
That is fascinating on a number of levels, Comrade Chow. But with Trump it gets even more fascinating. I came across an American Christian by the name of Jeremiah Johnson, who — no, it’s not the guy in the famous movie by that name…
Instead it is this guy, the modern day prophet Jeremiah Johnson…
I was in a time of prayer several weeks ago when God began to speak to me concerning the destiny of Donald Trump in America. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger.“Prophecy: Donald Trump Shall Become the Trumpet, by Jeremiah Johnson, Charisma Magazine, July 28, 2015
Compassion and mercy?
Someone who wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and needy? To the foreigner and the stranger?
It’s a joke, right?
I mean, it looks like humor is in play, because what Jeremiah Johnson prophesied is so true of Donald the Liar…
Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed.
He doesn’t, does he? Everyone is noticing them.
I was scratching my head over that prophecy, Comrade Chow — especially because it is such a contrast with the profile of Donald Trump we had discovered.
And it caused me to wonder about something.
If Christianity is the story we are in, do these modern prophets of Trump need to do any risk assessment related to their God?
Because the more you know about Donald Trump, the more you can see glaring inconsistencies between what that prophecy from Jeremiah Johnson says about Trump and what he has shown in his life.
And that, of course, raises a question about the genuineness of the prophecy. Is it just made up?
And does the Christian God even care whether his people make up such prophecies and claim they came from him?
Then one day I found this passage in the book of the real prophet Jeremiah:
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?
Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?” declares the Lord.
So, if Christianity is the story we are in, their God does care.
Notice what he says in that passage:
Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?” declares the Lord.
That opened my eyes to more of that hidden information which is moving your story forward, Comrade Chow:
Because… If Christianity is the story we are in, then the place to look for a way to evaluate Donald Trump is in the Bible itself.
And the Bible isn’t exactly a cheerleading book for certain prophets and dreamers…
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
The Greatest Commandment shows up in there!
So, if Christianity is the story we are in, what if their God is using Donald Trump to test them?
Look what Trump supporter Franklin Graham said about God putting Christians to the test…
I don’t believe the foundation laid by our forefathers is destroyed just yet, but it certainly is cracked and crumbling. We shouldn’t be surprised by our trials, for Psalm 11:5 tells us, “The Lord tests the righteous.”Franklin Graham: Calling the Nation to Repentance, By Franklin Graham, Decision Magazine, January 2016, 2015
So, did their God test them to reveal what they really want?
The false prophets, who were God’s watchmen over His flock, were blind to the dangers that faced Israel (cf. 21:6; 52:8). They were like dogs that should have barked when danger approached but were silent. Instead of being on guard, they were asleep, dreaming of an unrealistically rosy future for the nation. They were unaware of those things that should have gripped their attention.Notes on Isaiah, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light
What if, then, the Donald was Chosen to be a revealer?
The last book of the Bible is an apocalypse. We call it “Revelation” in English, but in the Greek it’s apokalypsis, as in, the “apokalypsis of Jesus Christ … to his servant John.”
Apokalypsis does not mean “catastrophe.” There is plenty of that in Revelation, but our use of “apocalypse” as a synonym for world-ending disaster is the result of this book, not the other way around. Apokalypsis is a literary genre our culture has abandoned, and it simply means “revealing.” (Thus, “Revelation.”) The concept is one of unmasking, of unveiling a previously hidden truth. The display is necessary, but that doesn’t make it happy. Seeing it can feel like the end of the world.
Apokalypsis is a moment of exposure, a paradigm shift. It’s suddenly realizing you were in the wrong. It’s finally admitting a relationship is over. It’s turning on the light and seeing cockroaches scatter.
President Trump is an apocalypse.
“The most useful thing about Donald Trump is that he coaxes many people into revealing their worst character traits in defense of him,” tweeted Corie Whalen, a freelance writer and former communications director for Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), after the president’s go back to where you came from remarks. “I’ve learned a lot of terrible things about many folks I was once comfortable associating with,” Whalen added. “I’m a whole lot more cautious now.”
Regardless of whether and how politics should rejigger our relationships, Trump’s apocalypse will surely elicit the impulse. The four years since he rode that golden escalator into our national consciousness have often been described as “polarizing,” and that’s not wrong. But much of the discord over Trump we’re experiencing is not new movement to political extremes but a revelation of what was already there. Trump has surely catalyzed division in our polity, but I suspect he has done much more to merely expose realities previously unnoticed, hidden, or ignored.Trump is an apocalypse, By Bonnie Kristian, The Week, July 16, 2019
The Case for Trump consists of four sections. The first three are not really a case for Trump at all but rather an analysis of how the divisions rending America gave rise to Trump. On one side, we have “liberal cosmopolitanism with windows on the sea,” writes Hanson. On the other side, we have “conservative traditionalism turned toward the land.” Over the past decades, the two have been at war. The liberal denizens of the blue states sneer at the socially and politically benighted denizens of the red states. And the denizens of the red states return the favor with seething resentment at the affluent and politically correct snobs on America’s coasts. The soil was thus prepared for Trump’s brand of populism to sprout.Sophistry in the Service of Evil, by GABRIEL SCHOENFELD, The Bulwark, MARCH 7, 2019
And here is something very interesting.
There is an American Christian named Dr. Lance Wallnau, who claimed that God spoke to him about having chosen Donald Trump as a “wrecking ball”.
And notice in the following how Wallnau is well aware of Abraham Lincoln’s warning about the possible cause of the death of America…
With 16 candidates running, and many of them strong Christians, it didn’t seem likely Trump, the business man outsider, would go far. But I heard the Lord say: “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.”
Immediately I began to wonder what God was doing. Could this odd man out be the unpredictable instrument of God for a nation entering what the authors of The Fourth Turning call the crucible — a cycle of American history where we are put to the ultimate test?
America has become a nation without walls, a nation without self-government. We are out of control fiscally and physically on our borders. It reminds me of the prophetic statement of Lincoln, who warned that no foreign power would destroy us: “No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.” I believe this wrecking ball is sent to break the spell and stop the death spiral.Why I Believe Trump Is the Prophesied President, By LANCE WALLNAU, Charisma News, October 5, 2016
So, here is something I am wondering.
What if Wallnau was right, that Trump is a Chosen One?
But, what if Wallnau was wrong about the purpose of the wrecking ball?
As of this writing we have ninety-four days until blast-off. Maybe God is humbling DT, bringing him to a breaking point, and then is going to zap him. Maybe some of the good men that I’m told Trump has gathered around him will be able to break through and we’ll begin to see more of Reagan and less of the host of The Apprentice.
Maybe. I’m still praying. And watching.
But I’m no longer at all optimistic.
And I’m also beginning to wonder about another potential plot-line and divine casting decision in regard to this bizarre, “‘Do I have your attention now?’ says the Lord” election season. Yes, Trump’s been anointed all right. But perhaps to a very different end than the one envisioned by Wallnau, Taylor and company.TRUMP AS CYRUS? REALLY?, By ERIC HOLMBERG, BarbWire, August 9, 2016
And something else we came to see is that Donald Trump’s Christian supporters seem to ignore the Donald’s pattern of making rather unbelievable claims about himself, as we learned from his “great Christian” claims.
So, consider how the following two claims don’t fit at all with what the Christians believe about the unfolding drama of the story we are in.
And notice how this claim from Donald was made at their National Prayer Breakfast…
The world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I’ve never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position of president.
The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out. OK? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out.Read President Trump’s Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, By Ryan Teague Beckwith, Time Magazine, February 2, 2017
He is going to fix it? Really?
So, those Christians in America put their trust in him to do that?
And look what Donald said in the campaign…
I can truly make this country great again and nobody else can do what I do.Donald Trump, Interview with Megyn Kelly, March 23, 2015
Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.Full transcript of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential announcement, BY DAILY NEWS STAFF, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, June 16, 2015
And look at this…
In an interview with the Portland Press Herald On Thursday, GOP presidential nominee and author of ‘The Art of the Deal’ says that the ultimate deal he dreams of negotiating would be to negotiate peace on Earth.
SCOTT THISTLE, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD: What would be the best deal you could negotiate as president of the United States?
DONALD TRUMP: Peace all over the world would be the best deal. And I think I would know how to do it better than anybody else, but peace all over the world.Trump: I Think I Am The Best Person To Make The Ultimate Deal — World Peace, By Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics, August 5, 2016
If Christianity is the story we are in, he is lying, right?
Don’t the Christians see that? Or are they really putting their hope and trust in him?
The humor level there is fascinating!
And notice how what the Donald said fits with what President Obama’s wife said about her husband…
Michelle Obama introduced her husband in Columbus, telling the rapt crowd of some 60,000 that despite his self-confidence, he needs their help.
“He thinks he can really do anything — he does. With his own power and will, he can fix it,” she said, praising Obama for creating “one of the most powerful political organizations” in history, and for the other virtues of his campaign.Michelle on Obama’s confidence, By Ben Smith, Politico, November 2, 2008
But Christians in America who love the Donald appear to have ignored this passage from their New Testament…
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
So, now consider how the following claim by Donald fits with our team’s research about America’s continuing Death March into the House Divided:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hothead, offends everyone, doesn’t listen. You’re going to have change your approach?
TRUMP: Well, I don’t think so, because you know, one by one they’re dropping out. I’m against — I was against 16 other candidates and, you know, I’m being divisive right now because I want to win. I know how to win; that’s what I have to do.
Ultimately if I do win, I’m going to be a great unifier, George. I will be a great unifier for the country.
The country right now is terribly divided by a president that doesn’t know how to lead and he’s a very divisive person.
I will be a great unifier. You will be surprised to see that but you will see that.Trump: I’m Being “Divisive” Because I Want To Win, Interview With George Stephanopoulos, This Week, October 25, 2015
So, he is going to straighten out the troubles in the world, bring about world peace, and unify America.
Or is something else going on?
Appearing Thursday on Fox News Radio, Carson spoke highly of Trump.
“There’s two Donald Trumps. There’s the Donald Trump that you see on television and who gets out in front of big audiences, and there’s the Donald Trump behind the scenes,” he said. “They’re not the same person. One’s very much an entertainer, and one is actually a thinking individual.”Ben Carson backs Trump, saying combative billionaire has ‘cerebral’ side, by Robert Costa and Brian Murphy, Washington Post, March 11, 2016
But anyone who knows Trump well, and has followed him through his decades of fame, knows Donald Trump is never just what you see on the surface. A master manipulator, he has always played every angle—bullying or flattering, and then suddenly changing directions—in order to gain an advantage. As often as not he keeps his true intentions to himself, and if his latest skirmish with Fox News is any indication, he is still a few steps ahead of everyone else. Having entered a new game that calls for seeking attention in a crowded room—modern day politics—Trump is proving that his skills are transferrable.What I Learned Writing Trump’s Biography, By Michael D’Antonio, Politico, September 25, 2015
So is it possible the Christians were blind to someone manipulating them?
For instance, notice once again that when Trump was thinking about running for President in the 2000 race, he made the following claim about himself:
Well, I’ve lived my life as an open book and I don’t claim to be something I am not. What you see is what you would get.Donald Trump, The America We Deserve
But is that really the way things are with him?
Consider the following, which Trump wrote in one of his books…
You’ve heard the phrase, “Life is a performance,” and it’s true. No matter what field you’re in, large parts of life and business involve acting. Acting encompasses people skills, negotiation skills, public relations, salesmanship, and the ability to read your audience, whether your audience consists of four people in your office, or 40,000 watching you television show.
If you take the time to think about what your audience wants, and what you have in common with them, you can create a bond that didn’t exist before. It also frees you from being nervous and allows you to focus better. Think of yourself as a performer, with a responsibility to your audience (who may also be your customers). Showmanship means being prepared for every performance, and the more prepared you are, the more effective you will be. Learn, know, and show: it’s a proven formula.Donald Trump, Trump University Wealth Building 101: Your First 90 Days on the Path to Prosperity
And look at this very revealing admission…
“When you start studying yourself too deeply, you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see,” Mr. Trump once told Time.
“And if there’s a rhyme and a reason,” he continued, “people can figure you out, and once they can figure you out, you’re in big trouble.”
So, was he putting on a performance for Christians while he hid and masked his true self?
Is Trump, like Obama, actually a skillful storyteller?
Consider the following from John Truby…
As a creator of verbal games that let the audience relive a life, the storyteller is constructing a kind of puzzle about people and asking the listener to figure it out. The author creates this puzzle in two major ways: he tells the audience certain information about a made-up character, and he withholds certain information. Withholding, or hiding, information, is crucial to the storyteller’s make-believe. It forces the audience to figure out who the character is and what he is doing and so draws the audience into the story. When the audience no longer has to figure out the story, it ceases being an audience, and the story stops.
So, Comrade Chow, if Christianity is the story we are in, then, just like with Barack Obama, something may be in play with Donald Trump.
Look at this…
Like Obama, Trump is not about persuading anybody. Both are about firing up their supporters to impose their will on their opponents while insulting them. Throughout history, this style of politics has been the indispensable ingredient for wrecking republics, the “final cause” that transforms free citizens into the subjects of emperors.
But we also need to think about another possibility related to the Donald and storytelling…
Donald Trump knows narrative better than any politician, ever. He doesn’t know storytelling. It’s not the same. He knows narrative, which is the problem/solution dynamic.
Donald Trump is a master of narrative. In “Houston, We Have A Narrative,” I offer up a very simple, albeit crude, definition of the word narrative as, “The series of events that occur in the search for a solution to a problem.” By this definition, Trump lives and breathes narrative.
Trump is legendary as a “dealmaker.” What does that term mean? It is a person who sits down at the table, quickly figures out the problem that needs to be solved, then solves it with the deal. It’s what he does all day long and is how he approaches the world, endlessly.
When you start to listen to him from the perspective of narrative dynamics (again, narrative, not storytelling) you see how much he embodies the core principles.
And connect that to these fascinating insights about the Donald…
And then there is multiculturalism’s favorite shibboleth—the infamous “metanarrative.” Invented by a host of obscure philosophers of postmodernism, most of whom saw themselves as leftists, this idea is most familiar as the ideological justification for made-up rape stories and accusing white cops of crimes they did not commit. Its calling card is that a larger idea — the narrative — is somehow truer than actual facts.
Trump is guilty of this deceit in spades. He can make all sorts of erroneous statements knowing full well that his supporters will come to his defense no matter how inaccurate his assertions may be. Who cares, they insist, that he exaggerates the number of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on September 11, 2001? What matters is the underlying “truth” that all Muslims supposedly hate Americans. But lest we think this is only a right-wing phenomenon, remember this: the embrace of the narrative-is-truth paradigm by Trump is no different from the one used by “black lives matters” activists who to this day, despite all the facts to the contrary, believe Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was guilty of murder. This metanarrative line of reasoning was invented and popularized by the postmodern left, not by conservatives.
Trump is perfectly in sync with the prevailing popular culture. He’s a reality TV star thoroughly in tune with the passions and dynamics of mass publicity and social media. He’s also a mirror image of the dominant culture of identity politics. He accepts its ethos of bitter-end tribalism. He revels in the radical expressionism invented and perfected by the postmodern left. And he has learned that no statement, no matter how radical or unsupported by the facts, can hurt him, provided his supporters believe it captures the higher narrative in which they believe.
It’s common to speak of Trump as a character out of a TV show; he might just as easily be viewed as a transplant from a cultural studies department (where much time is devoted to the study of TV shows). In his disdain for science, in the subjectivity of his worldview, in his radically solipsistic moral relativism (things are good or bad as they relate to him), he is a postmodern hero par excellence, Derrida with a funny haircut and a thousand-dollar suit.
So, what if Wallnau is misinterpreting the wrecking ball?
You see, Comrade Chow, it looks like there can be a wider range of Chosen Ones. Look what their New Testament says about Pharaoh…
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
So — what if something different is in play here?
You see, Comrade Chow, insights like this, from Robert McKee, continue to have my attention…
The storyteller’s selection and arrangement of events is his master metaphor for the interconnectedness of all levels of reality — personal, political, environmental, spiritual. Stripped of it characterization and location,story structure reveals his personal cosmology, his insights into the deepest patterns and motivations for how and why things happen in this world – his map of life’s hidden order.
And that seems to fit with these…
In real life, we are born into a world that already exists, and we must adapt to it. But in good stories, the characters come first, and the writer designs the world to be an infinitely detailed manifestation of those characters.
So focus on character. What happens in Faulkner’s books,
for instance, arises from the nature of his characters, and even though his
characters are not necessarily people you want to date, they compel us because
we believe that they exist and we believe that the things they do are true to
who they are. We read Faulkner for the beauty of his horrible creations, the
beauty of the writing, and we read him to find out what life is about from his
point of view. He expresses this through his characters. All you can give us is
what life is about from your point of view. You are not going to be able
to give us the plans to the submarine. Life is not a submarine. There are no
Find out what each character cares most about in the world because then you will have discovered what’s at stake.
Still, this master artist is not content to tell his story merely through the created universe. He tells a story within the story too, by appointing people throughout the narrative to record his direct communication with his characters. So emerge the Scriptures, an even deeper revelation of the mind and heart of the divine author.
And the Christian philosopher, Paul Moser, continues to make me think about this possibility…
A better formulation is this: what, if anything, is behind all of the world’s changes, including the movements in my experiences, such as the experienced ups and downs, comings and goings, and dyings and risings?
The fact of the world’s changes seems undeniable, at least from where I sit (for a time). Is there, however, something behind it all, not just as a cause, but as a meaning-conferring explanation? In particular, is there a unifying power with constant intentions or purposes behind all of the movement or at least much of it? In other words, is there an intentional agent thus involved in the mix as a superhuman guide?
So, if their God is the Great Storyteller, is it possible he is still choosing unique characters to play a role in the unfolding drama?
Stories allow you to say what cannot otherwise be said and, conversely, allow similar things to be heard. God himself chose poets, philosophers, dramatists, musicians, and prophets to tell the Holy Scriptures — storytellers who articulated divine mysteries beyond the scope of reason. Maybe it’s possible to know God without story; nevertheless, story is the form God chose. Story is a way to pull life from the void, it is a word that creates.
Mystery means gaining interest through curiosity alone. We create but then conceal expositional facts, particularly facts in the Backstory. We arouse the audience’s curiosity about these past events, tease it with hints of the truth, then deliberately keep it in the dark by misleading it with “red herrings,” so that it believes or suspects false facts while we hide the real facts.
Several times in this book we have asked what readers want.
Many claim they read for theme, or for genre. And it is likely true that many
keep reading because certain plotlines are strangely addictive. But when they
are reviewing or attending book clubs, thousands of readers claim that
actually character is likely the most important aspect of
the difference between a good novel and a can’t-put-down novel. It is
through characters that we can observe vicariously or judge quietly, or
fantasize unnoticed. So many of us buy novels for the promise of
these experiences. Characters take us to new
places-geographic, emotional, mental, moral, sexual. We can have, for the
duration of the novel, a wicked mother, when perhaps in reality we have a
caring one. We can have or be an adulterous lover when we may in fact have or
be a faithful one. We can, while we escape into reading, fly to the moon,
murder people, and marry Heathcliff. Part of the joy of reading is how we
position ourselves alongside or in opposition to characters-or sometimes
both-as they show us potential results of crime or lust or commitment or faith
or daring. Characters make us think and
rethink. They bring us something new. Some characters even have their own
fan clubs, and inspire fan fiction, and T-shirts and even, in the case of Harry
Potter, an entire theme park in Florida. But many fiction writers, when asked
to teach or write about how to “do” character, admit that character is the
most difficult aspect of fiction both to master and to teach.
The whole concept of literary character has been surrounded with theoretical controversy, most of which would strike the average sensible reader as a load of nonsense. It is basically a fight between a few different positions. The first and most simple is that characters, to be thought of as successful, must be so unique, so complex, and so well rendered inside and out that the reader can know them in a way they will never know their real friends or even themselves. In other words, a character in a novel should be psychologically deep and real.
And look at these, Comrade Chow…
What God does, He does mostly through instruments, and what His instruments do, they do fulfilling His Will through their own blind will or appetite.
God works in mysterious ways throughout history through the agency of human beings, both good and evil, powerful and weak.
Keep in mind that God’s sovereignty allows Him to even use that which is not cooperating with Him (the bad) in order to move things to where He wants them to go.
But also consider this…
Even in the face of such unambiguous language, some Evangelicals remain determined to identify loopholes and exceptions that will allow them to pursue a marriage of convenience with Mr. Trump (or Hillary for that matter). These individuals are fond of citing historical cases where God used arrogant, and even ungodly, leaders to further His purposes (Sesostris III, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus the Great, Artaxerxes, and Xerxes II come to mind).
Two things are conspicuously missing from this argument.
First, the people of God played no role whatever in the rise to power of these leaders. There was no Christian Coalition, no Moral Majority, no Tea Party. As slaves and exiles, they harbored no concept of democratic elections.
Secondly, although God may have used these men, there is no evidence He approved of them. To the contrary, He eventually brought each one low (in keeping with the warning of Proverbs 11:2; 16:1, & 18:12).
As God makes clear in Psalm 138:6, He is aware of the proud, but reserves relationship for the humble.
So, is it possible all that somehow fits with this insight?…
You never want to create characters that sound like a
mouthpiece for your ideas. Good writers express their moral vision slowly and
subtly, primarily through the story structure and the way the hero deals with a
particular situation. Your moral vision is communicated by how your hero
pursues his goal while competing with one or more opponents and by what
your hero learns, or fails to learn, over the course of his struggle.
In effect, you, as the author, are making a moral argument through what your characters do in the plot.
Donald has everyone’s attention, and so, we should wonder if there is something mysterious going on related to these insights…
Like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence, authors trick readers
into doing most of the imaginative work. Reading is often seen as a
passive act: we lie back and let writers pipe joy into our brains. But
this is wrong. When we experience a story, our minds are churning, working
Writers sometimes compare their craft to painting. Each word is a daub of paint. Word by word-brushstroke by brushstroke-the writer creates images that have all the depth and crispness of real life. But a close look at the Philbrick passage shows that writers are merely drawing, not painting. Philbrick gives us expert line drawings with hints on filling them in. Our minds supply most of the information in the scene – most of the color, shading, and texture.
When we read stories, this massive creative effort is going on all the time, chugging away beneath our awareness. We meet a character who is “handsome” with “fierce eyes” and cheekbones “like blades.” And from those small cues we build a human being who has not only those eyes (dark or light?) or those cheeks (ruddy or pale?) but also a certain type of nose and mouth.
And look what Robert McKee says about the connection between characters and the plot…
Plot or character? Which is more important? This debate is as old as the art. Aristotle weighed each side and concluded that story is primary, character secondary. His view held sway until, with the evolution of the novel, the pendulum of opinion swung the other way. By the nineteenth century, many held that structure is merely an appliance designed to display personality, that what the reader wants is fascinating, complex characters. Today both sides continue the debate without a verdict. The reason for the hung jury is simple: The argument is specious.
We cannot ask which is more important, structure or character, because structure is character; character is structure. They’re the same thing, and therefore one cannot be more important than the other.
And do these characters sometimes connect with the story in the past?
The Holy Spirit knew beforehand the course of history with its consummation in Christ, and so in guiding the writers he intended a deeper meaning than they understood. Not only was the ritual typical, but also the history. The first Adam was typical of the last Adam, the Flood typified the Last Judgment, Isaac and Hagar typified the church made free by the Spirit and Israel seeking justification by the law, the Exodus typified redemption, the Red Sea baptism, the brazen serpent the cross. Therefore grammatico-historical exegesis of the Old Testament does not tell the whole story, nor even the main part of the story. The prophets ‘were serving not themselves, but you’ (1 Pet. I :10-12).
So, this caught my attention, Comrade…
The hardest question to answer begins with “Why would God…?”
But here’s why this question is the hardest to answer. When someone asks, “Why would God…?” they’re asking me to explain the mind of God. Unless God has given us insight into His thinking or rationale through His Word, it’s impossible to know for sure why He does something or thinks something. All I’m doing when I answer, then, is speculating. That’s what theologians, philosophers, and apologists are doing. That’s what you’re doing too.
There’s nothing wrong with speculation, of course. We do it all the time. We shouldn’t confuse that, though, with giving people knowledge about the mind of God when that knowledge has not been made available to us. I usually make it clear before I answer that kind of question that I’m speculating or offering some options (aka guesses) as to why God does what He does. As the Apostle Paul asks in Romans 11:34, “Who has known the mind of God?”
And look at this…
[T]he Christian Story takes all of the important pieces of the puzzle – things we discover by paying close attention to the world around us, true things we know deep down inside our hearts, and other things only the Author himself can tell us (and he does) — and puts them together in a tale we would never have guessed. It is not a story we would have thought up on our own.
Never have guessed. So, this insight should have our attention…
God could subject creation to futility, for redemptive purposes, without directly bringing about every instance of futility in creation. God could create free agents who freely bring about some of the world’s futility and are therefore causally and morally responsible for it. This option can raise serious problems for a characterization of God as successful in realizing God’s perfect will at every point. The latter characterization would have to face the reality of the power of created free agents, if they exist, to frustrate God’s perfect will. Obviously, some agents do not comply with God’s perfect will. Part of God’s noncoercive “providence,” then, may be to allow some created agents to exercise control, even harmful control, over parts of creation. God would not have to be the direct cause of all that occurs in creation, because God could allow some opposition to unrighteousness to arise from the causal powers of created agents. In that case, God’s permissive will would be operating, even if God’s perfect executive will would not. God’s allowing an action by another agent does not entail God’s causing, performing, recommending, or approving that action.
And, Comrade, what if R.R. Reno sees something in relation to the simple story question which is so relevant to the story of America: Who are we, here in the story?
Trump is a transformative figure because he is a powerful cultural symbol and knows how to use rhetoric to dramatize his role—like Obama, in his own way. Trump is forcing a debate about what kind of country we want to be. This is why he’s the focus of the media’s compulsive attention. It’s why he polarizes. It’s why voter turnout was so high yesterday.
Many of my friends, liberal and conservative, find the intensity of this political moment unsettling. I say it is long overdue, and we should be grateful to Trump for upsetting the old, one-sided liberal dictates about what could and could not be said about our country. He is making us address the most important question in any democratic polity: Who are we?
And look how George Weigel connects their crisis to the simple story question – who are we, here in the story?
First, we should recognize, without fear or exaggeration, the full gravity of our present political–cultural situation and moment, which is one in which a civil war is being conducted (often not very civilly) over the very meaning of the human person.
“What is at stake is America’s understanding of itself,” John Courtney Murray wrote fifty years ago in We Hold These Truths. “Self-understanding is the necessary condition of a sense of self-identity and self-confidence, whether in the case of an individual or in the case of a people. If the American people can no longer base this sense on naive assumptions of self-evidence, it is imperative that they find other more reasoned grounds for their essential affirmation that they are uniquely a people, uniquely a free people. Otherwise the peril is great. The complete loss of one’s identity is, with all propriety of theological definition, hell. In diminished forms it is insanity. And it would not be well for the American giant to go lumbering about the world today, lost and mad.”
And look how that connects with this…
Among the most glaring indications that we are in exile is the necessity of contending for the most basic truth of the dignity of the human person. If we don’t get that right, we are unlikely go get right many other questions of great moral and political moment.
So, there it is, Comrade Chow. The Americans are faced with the same simple story question which they have been since their founding…
Who are we, here in the story?
It sure looks like their history may be rhyming. Because, what if they are facing another major crisis moment in the story of America? …
Perhaps democracy itself is now facing a crucial hour of decision and a crucial season of testing. It is no exaggeration to say that democracy is being tested around the world; it is certainly being tested here at home.
I have been struck by the number of thoughtful Americans who believe that we are living a defining moment in our national life: Roads are indeed diverging, and the choices taken will have much to do with whether the United States at its tercentenary, sixty-six years from now, will be a political community in recognizable moral and cultural continuity with its founding.
And, if Christianity is the story we are in, Comrade Chow – is it possible God the Great Storyteller has sent a very divisive character into their unfolding drama at just this time?
Democracy is no different from any other form of government in that the political order is shaped by the character and example of its leaders.
Remember what Trump wrote to America back in the year 2000…
Well, I’ve lived my life as an open book and I don’t claim to be something I am not. What you see is what you would get.
So, what if Donald himself provided setup in the story with that comment? Because, he is quite the character…
The charged atmosphere surrounding Trump is charged because he has charged it.
And if you have the sickening feeling this is only the beginning, you’re not alone. Trump, I’ve often said, is a manifestation of Loki, the god of misrule. Misrule breeds chaos. Chaos breeds violence. A political party that chooses Loki for its leader is a political party with a rank-and-file choosing chaos. And a political party whose populist left is provoking its rival into choosing chaos is morally stained as well.
For decades, Trump took little interest in matters of state, but he has studied the media for years. Even as a real-estate mogul, he was not a master builder; he was a master manipulator. He spent decades honing his self-aggrandizement in the pages of the New York tabloids and on local television. Then he took his graduate degree in media studies as the central figure on “The Apprentice.” He learned the dark arts of misdirection, bullying, and lying. He came to believe that he could fool enough of the people enough of the time to suit his purposes. He learned how to render himself as a distinctive and “colorful” character.
Of course, as Yogi Berra might have said, Trumpland isn’t even about Trump. As invaluable as he has been to the Republican Party, as Pied Piper and lightning rod, diversion and screen, the president is too self-obsessed, too ignorant, and too disinterested in the workings of government to be anything more than a rude kochleffel, the spoon endlessly stirring the pot. He is the galvanizing agent of our present chaos, not its cause. Even if he is ushered from the scene, the America we have become since he took office will not magically become lotus-land.
To read a stack of new and reissued books about Mr. Trump, as well as a bunch of his own works, is to be plunged into a kind of Bizarro World version of Dante’s “Inferno,” where arrogance, acquisitiveness and the sowing of discord are not sins, but attributes of leadership; a place where lies, contradictions and outrageous remarks spring up in such thickets that the sort of moral exhaustion associated with bad soap operas quickly threatens to ensue.
That the subject of these books is not a fictional character but the Republican nominee for president can only remind the reader of Philip Roth’s observation, made more than 50 years ago, that American reality is so stupefying, “so weird and astonishing,” that it poses an embarrassment to the novelist’s “meager imagination.”
And what if one of their brilliant Christian philosophers, David Bentley Hart, saw something a few years before Donald decided to run…
How then, I asked Ambrose, should one portray the prince of darkness?
After a pensive moment, Ambrose replied, “A merciless real estate developer whose largest projects are all casinos.”
And recalling this exchange brought Donald Trump to mind. You know the fellow: developer, speculator, television personality, hotelier, political dilettante, conspiracy theorist, and grand croupier—the one with that canopy of hennaed hair jutting out over his eyes like a shelf of limestone.
How obvious it seems to me now. Cold, grasping, bleak, graceless, and dull; unctuous, sleek, pitiless, and crass; a pallid vulgarian floating through life on clouds of acrid cologne and trailed by a vanguard of fawning divorce lawyers, the devil is probably eerily similar to Donald Trump—though perhaps just a little nicer.
And look how that fits with this…
The trickster enjoys mischief in order to change people’s world views in a way.
Yes. They want change. They want mischief. They want to knock people — They’re inciting characters. They incite a lot of things. They’re causal inciting things.
So, we may be able to help the Central Military Commission seriously consider how his embrace of contemptand revenge could wreak havoc in America’s unfolding relational breakdown…
In other words, once the poison of jealousy, contempt, and even hatred enters the bloodstream of the body politic, a dark and foreboding bleakness will begin to cover the society, from which nothing good will come.
And look at this, Comrade Chow…
Watch enough of President Donald Trump’s rallies, and his power as a storyteller shines through.
He’s the hero, the savior, the dragon-slayer of his own story. The villains include Democrats, foreigners and the journalists in the back of the hall.
Love him or hate him, but give credit where it’s due: Trump is succeeding at telling a story.
Trump’s stories are often more fiction than fact. But the thing about a story, like a novel or a drama, is that it’s not really meant to be fact-checked. The narrative is meant to make you feel.
That’s what Trump does to great effect. Just look at the faces of the people at his rallies. The star of “The Apprentice” knows exactly what he’s doing.
And that means we have to pay more attention to McKee…
And at the opposite end of story sits another equally profound phenomenon: the audience’s reaction to this substance. When you think about it, going to the movies is bizarre. Hundreds of strangers sit in a blackened room, elbow to elbow, for two or more hours. They don’t go to the toilet or get a smoke. Instead, they stare wide-eyed at a screen, investing more uninterrupted concentration than they give to work, paying money to suffer emotions they’d do anything to avoid in life. From this perspective, a second question arises: What is the source of story energy? How does it compel such intense mental and sentient attention from the audience? How do stories work?
The answers to these questions come when the artist explores the creative process subjectively. To understand the substance of story and how it performs, you need to view your work from the inside out, from the center of your character, looking out at the world through your character’s eyes, experiencing the story as if you were the living character yourself. To slip into this subjective and highly imaginative point of view, you need to look closely at this creature you intend to inhabit, a character. Or more specifically, a protagonist. For although the protagonist is a character like any other, he embodies all aspects of character in absolute terms.
So, as we move forward, Comrade Chow, we should explore three what if questions related to the Donald…
What if Donald Trump was chosen to be a Revealer?
What if Donald Trump was chosen to be a Tester?
What if Donald Trump was chosen to be an Accelerator?
Because, it’s entirely possible that, if Christianity is the story we are in, God the Great Storyteller chose Donald Trump to put the American Christians to a test.
And then, if they fail that test, what if he will use the Donald to accelerate America’s Death March into the Danger Zone of the House Divided?
This crazy assignment your Uncle gave us is turning out to be a fascinating experience!
I so appreciated that memo from Paula. She has enabled us to think more broadly about Donald Trump.
So then, if Christianity is the story we are in, is it possible God the Great Storyteller is far more active in the unfolding drama than you realize?